R.B. Bernstein


Additional Departments/Affiliated Programs

Political Science


NAC 4/138A



R.B. Bernstein


R. B. Bernstein is Lecturer in Political Science at CCNY, and teaches in the Honors Program in Legal Studies of the Colin Powell School of Civic and Global Leadership.  From 2011 to 2014, he was an adjunct professor of political science and history.  A lifelong New Yorker, he was educated in New York City's public schools, graduating from Stuyvesant High School in 1973.  Educated at Amherst College (B.A. in American Studies, 1977) and the Harvard Law School (J.D., 1980), he did graduate work in history at New York University.  He spent three years in corporate law practice (1980-1983).  He has co-curated exhibitions at The New York Public Library, the New-York Historical Society, and the Library of Congress, and he was Historian at the New York City Commission on the Bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution (1987-1990) and Research Director of the New York State Commission on the Bicentennial of the Constitution (1989-1990).  He is also a distinguished adjunct professor of law at New York Law School, where he has taught since 1991.  His books include The Founding Fathers Reconsidered (2009), a finalist for the 2010 George Washington Book Prize, and Thomas Jefferson (2003), both New York Timesbestsellers.  His most recent publications include An Expression of the American Mind; Selected Writings of Thomas Jefferson (editor, introduction, commentary) (Folio Society, 2013), and Making Legal History: Essays in Honor of William E. Nelson (co-editor) (NYU Press, 2013).  He is completing The Education of John Adams, to be published by Oxford University Press.


BOOKS (selected)


Hamilton: A Very Short Introduction (forthcoming, Oxford University Press)


Jefferson: A Very Short Introduction (forthcoming, Oxford University Press)


The Education of John Adams (forthcoming, Oxford University Press, 2019)


The Federalist Papers (ed., introduction, annotation).  (London: Arcturus Publishing, 2016).


The Founding Fathers: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2015).


Making Legal History: Essays in Honor of William E. Nelson (co-editor).  New York University Press, 2013.


An Expression of the American Mind: Selected Writings of Thomas Jefferson (editor).  Folio Society, 2013.


The Founding Fathers Reconsidered.  Oxford University Press, 2009; paperback, 2011.  Finalist, 2010 George Washington Book Prize; Co-Winner, NYLS Otto L. Walter Distinguished Faculty Writing Prize.


Thomas Jefferson.  Oxford University Press, 2003; paperback, 2005.  Honorable Mention, 2004 Fraunces Tavern Book Prize; Co-Winner, NYLS Otto L. Walter Distinguished Faculty Writing Prize.  Reprint: Folio Society, 2008.  [French translation: Nouveaux Horizons, 2008; Chinese translation, Chinese translation, China Renmin University Press 2017.]


Thomas Jefferson and Bolling v. Bolling: Law and the Legal Profession in Pre-Revolutionary America (co-editor). Huntington Library Press and NYU School of Law, 1997.


Amending America: If We Love the Constitution So Much, Why Do We Keep Trying to Change It? Times Books, 1993; University Press of Kansas, 1995.  Co-Winner, NYLS Distinguished Faculty Writing Prize.


Roots of the Republic: American Founding Documents Interpreted (co-editor/contributor).  Madison House, 1990.


Are We to Be a Nation? The Making of the Constitution (lead coauthor).  Harvard University Press, 1987.





“The Perils of Definitiveness: Dumas Malone’s Jefferson and His Time,” in Robert m. S. McDonald, ed., Jefferson’s Lives (University of Virginia Press, forthcoming fall 2019)


“Thomas Jefferson,” in The Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of the American Enlightenment. (Bloomsbury Academic, 2015).


“Symposium: The Making of a Legal Historian: Reassessing the Work of William E. Nelson” (symposium co-editor), Chicago-Kent Law Review 89:3 (2014): 907-1128 (co-author of introduction, 907-915).


“Charles A. Beard: Foe of Originalism,” American Political Thought 2:2 (Fall 2013): 302-307.


“John Adams; The Life and the Biographers,” in David Waldstreicher, ed., A Companion to John Adams, John Quincy Adams, and the Adamses (Wiley-Blackwell, 2013).


“President John Adams and Four Chief Justices: An Essay for James F. Simon,” New York Law School Law Review 57:3 (2012/2013): 441-463.


“Thomas Jefferson and Constitutionalism,” in Francis D. Cogliano, ed., A Companion to Thomas Jefferson (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012).


“The Constitution as an Exploding Cigar, and Other ‘Historian’s Heresies’ About a Constitutional Orthodoxy,” New York Law School Law Review 55:4 (2010-2011): 1029-1051.  Winner, NYLS Otto L. Walter Distinguished Faculty Writing Prize.


“‘Let Us Dare to Read, Think, Speak, and Write’: John Adams’s Uses of Reading as Political and Constitutional Armory,” in Robert C. Baron and Conrad Edick Wright, eds., The Libraries, Leadership, and Legacy of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson (Fulcrum Publishing for Massachusetts Historical Society, 2010).


“Thomas Jefferson,” in International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences (second ed., Macmillan Reference, 2008).


“Parliamentary Principles, American Realities: The Continental and Confederation Congresses” and “A New Matrix for National Politics: The First Federal Elections, 1788-90,” in Kenneth R. Bowling and Donald R. Kennon, eds., Inventing Congress (Ohio University Press, 1999). Co-Winners, NYLS Otto L. Walter Distinguished Faculty Writing Prize.


“The Sleeper Wakes: The History and Legacy of the Twenty-Seventh Amendment.”  Fordham Law Review 61 (1992): 497-557.





“Thomas Jefferson: Nationalist, Scientist, Politician, … and Slaveholding Monster?”, Reviews in American History 42:2 (June 2014): 227-236.


“Ratification’s Pathfinder, With Some Hints for Future Explorations,” in “Critical Forum: Pauline Maier, Ratification: The People Debate the Constitution, 1787-1788” in William and Mary Quarterly 69:2 (April 2012): 377-81, and “Recapitulating Three Themes,” id., 391-2.


“Legal History’s Pathfinder: The Quest of John Phillip Reid,” pp. 15-37 in nHendrik E. Hasrtog, William E. Nelson, and Barbara Wilcie Kern, eds., Law as Culture and Culture as Law: Essays in Honor of John Phillip Reid (Madison, WI: Madison House, 2000).


“Review Essay: Rediscovering Thomas Paine.”  New York Law School Law Review 39 (1994): 873-929.


“Book Review: Mapping Legal History’s Middle Ground.”  NYU Law Review 68 (1993): 675-705.


“Review Essay: Charting the Bicentennial.” Columbia Law Review 87 (1987): 1565-1624.



BOOK REVIEWS (selected)


American Historical Review, American Political Thought, Church History and Religious Culture, Daily Beast, H-LAW, H-SHEAR, Journal of American History, Journal of American Studies, Journal of the Early Republic, Journal of Supreme Court History, Law and History Review, Law and Politics Book Review, New England Quarterly, New York Times Book Review, Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Reviews in American History, Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, William and Mary Quarterly.



OP-ED ARTICLES (selected)

The Daily Beast; Washington Post; Huffington Post; New York Post; and The New York Times.


Courses Taught

PSC 20800 American Political Thought
PSC 22000 The Judiciary
PSC 22100 The Presidency
PSC 31140 African-American Political Thought
PSC 31720 Early American Political Development